Welcome to the Hooniverse News! This is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or the bull. I also throw in some opinion of mine, just because I can. This week:
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG gets more power, all-wheel-drive
CLS63 AMG does too
Lexus IS redesigned for 2014
Dodge adds the new GT trim level to the Dart
Ford Sync App Developer Program is go
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG 4Matic
Can it be? An all-wheel-drive AMG sedan and wagon? With the introduction of the 2014 E63 AMG 4Matic, which is based off the new E-Class which we’ve covered quite a bit lately, that exists now. Starting this summer, American buyers will be able to buy what Mercedes-Benz calls “the first … powerful passenger car with an AWD powertrain designed for vehicle dynamics” – but first you have to assume the 550hp, AWD Porsche Panamera Turbo S doesn’t count.
Among the many things that are new here, the 4Matic all-wheel-drive is perhaps the most important new feature, since up until now, only SUVs like the G63 and ML63 were graced with the 4Matic system. Both the sedan and wagon will come exclusively with the AWD system which sends 33% of the torque to the front and 67% to the rear and also features a Torque Vectoring Brake to reduce understeer when the driver switches the 3-way electronic stability program (ESP) to the “Sport Handling” mode. That’s good news, because the 5.5-liter Biturbo V8 it uses now produces 557 horsepower and 531 lb.-ft. of torque in “base” trim or 585 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. when the S-Model specification is ordered. The wagon will only be offered as an S-Model, because if you’re going to buy a 557 horsepower wagon, just go for 585.
Whichever specification you go for, all models utilize a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. 0-60 mph takes just 3.5 seconds on the S-Model sedan and wagon, and presumably the base E63 sedan isn’t far behind. Other performance goodies include a limited slip differential, optional 15.8″ carbon ceramic brakes, and red brake calipers which automatically make the car faster.
The bodywork is said to reflect AMG’s new design language, with “twin blade” grilles, an “A-Wing” front fascia, and widened fenders all around. There’s also an optional carbon fiber exterior styling package, because no über German car would be complete without that. 19″ 10-spoke alloy wheels, which feature high-sheen rim flanges on the S-Model, are standard. The interior is typical for a Mercedes-Benz with loads of black Nappa leather with gray contrast stitching, Alcantara, piano black lacquer and carbon fiber trim, and loads of tech features as found on the standard E-Class.
Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG
The CLS63 AMG “four door coupe” and shooting brake will also be receiving the updates mentioned above, specifically the upgraded Biturbo V8 with up to 585 horsepower, the S Model specification, and the 4Matic AWD which is an option on this one. S Model CLS63 AMGs will come standard with 4Matic and many of the other features (both mechanical and aesthetic) that the S Model E63 AMG has as well. The CLS63 AMG “four door coupe” will arrive in the US shortly after the E63 AMG, and the Shooting Brake is an east-side of the Atlantic deal only.
2014 Lexus IS
One of the most important cars in the Lexus lineup is all-new for the 2014 model year featuring upgraded powertrain options, new features, and as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, new looks. We’ve been given an early look at the car’s new styling as well as a very brief rundown of some of the new features before the car’s official debut at Detroit next week. Three main variants of the IS, which include a hybrid and F-Sport, will each go on sale later this year, but the hybrid won’t come to America.
The “enhanced” exterior styling follows the Lexus design language we’ve started seeing in recent years which includes the family spindle grille and more curves all around than ever before. The grille inspired by an electric shaver (which also improves cooling) sits between two redesigned headlamps with exposed body work splitting up the bulbs and the LED running lights. Working our way backward to the rest of the car, we find swooshes. Swooshes everywhere.
The interior is also completely redone and more spacious thanks to the increased wheel base and thinner front seats which allow for more rear leg room. The dash features electrostatic switches for the first time ever and a fancy analog clock to replace the 90’s wrist-watch they used to give you. A Lexus LFA-inspired steering wheel and electronic gauge cluster are at the center of a sportier, lower driving position. Powertrain options are mostly the same as before but with a few quick and easy upgrades.
Source: Lexus via Autoweek
2013 Dodge Dart GT
Chrysler will be at the Detroit Auto Show with the hottest version of their new compact yet, the 2013 Dart GT. The new top trim level Dart will go on sale Spring of this year for $21,790 including destination charges.
Built for the driver (or people who just like to buy the top trim level to show off), the Dart GT will utilize the 2.4-liter Tigershark four-banger with 184 horsepower and 174 lb.-ft. of torque, a standard 6-speed manual transmission with an optional automatic, and a sport-tuned suspension. The exterior features an aggressive front fascia with black accents, HID headlamps, 18″ aluminum wheels, and dual chrome-tipped exhaust. The interior gets exclusive treatment in the form of flashy trim, perforated leather seats, and special badging. The Dart GT will also come with a standard 8.4″ touch-screen display, rear backup camera, and a configurable gauge cluster display.
Ford App Developer Program
Ford is opening up its Sync platform to app developers with their App Developer Program in order to improve the Sync user experience and make their infotainment system as useful and attractive as possible.
With this program, anyone will be able to directly interface with a vehicle to create apps for the system while Ford provides tech support from engineers, trusted 3rd party developers, and other developers via an online forum. App testing can be done by Ford or by yourself with a development kit that features a mock dash, and when it’s complete, app verification from Ford is free of charge. Several major developers have already been beta testing the program for some time now, and available at launch will be everything from the Wall Street Journal to Amazon Cloud Player to… geographically-specific dating ideas.
Ford hasn’t said exactly when Sync users can expect to see these app, but they’re definitely coming soon. Hell, they might already be there. Either way, this is a very interesting idea for the future of infotainment systems which seems to be an answer to Sprint’s also interesting Velocity program we covered a few months back. Now we wait for a Farmville app.